Larry Young, Who Studied the Chemistry of Love, Dies at 56 – Generic English

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“Because we knew that oxytocin was involved in mother-infant bonding, we explored whether oxytocin might be involved in this partner bonding,” he said in an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in 2019.

It was.

“If you take two prairie voles, a male and a female, put them together, and this time you don’t let them mate and you just give them a little bit of oxytocin, they will bond,” Professor Young said. “So that was our first set of experiments to show that oxytocin was involved in things other than maternal bonding.”

He also injected female prairie voles with a drug that blocks oxytocin, which made them temporarily polygamous.

“Love doesn’t really fly in and out,” Professor Young wrote in “The Chemistry Between Us: Love, Sex and the Science of Attraction” (2012, with Brian Alexander). “The complex behaviors surrounding these emotions are driven by a few molecules in our brains. It’s these molecules, acting on defined neural circuits, that so powerfully influence some of the biggest, most life-changing decisions we’ll ever make.”

Professor Young always cautioned that prairie voles weren’t humans (obviously). But in the same way that mouse studies have led to medical breakthroughs, he thought his research with prairie voles had intriguing implications.

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